Biplane fighter aces

Italy

Sottotenente Vittorio Muratori

25 July 1912 – 3 September 1941

Vittorio Muratori was born on 25 July 1912 in Trento.

In September 1940 Sottotenente Muratori served in the 92a Squadriglia, 8o Gruppo C.T. This unit was equipped with Fiat CR.42s and served in North Africa.

At 17:30 on 20 September, two CR.42s of the 92a Squadriglia, 8o Gruppo, flown by Sottotenente Muratori and Sergente Ernesto De Bellis took off from Menastir M.
Sottotenente Muratori intercepted a British formation of three Bristol Blenheims, which were out to attack Menastir and claimed one of them probably shot down. Muratori landed back at 18:10.
In the meantime, Sergente De Bellis intercepted a group of three planes identified as Sunderlands and was able to claim one of the enemy aircraft shot down. De Bellis landed back at 18:20.
The attack on Menastir was performed by three Blenheims from 55 Squadron commanded by Flight Lieutenant H. R. Goodman. The Bristols attacked at 18:30 making two runs; their bombs where seen falling over the landing strip and near dispersed aircraft but it was difficult to appreciate any results because of the dust raised. Four CR.42s were seen over Menastir and one, on the return journey near Sidi El Barrani, but in both cases these fighters were left behind and no engagement took place. From Italian reports, no losses were suffered during the raid on Menastir described as two separate raids made by three aircraft at 17:25 and 17:30 (obviously the two runs of the same 55 Squadron’s formation). No British losses can be verified on this day, even if it is known that around the same hours 211 Squadron made an evening attack on Sidi El Barrani.
No RAF Sunderland reported any kind of engagement during the day so most probably these planes were incorrectly identified machines of other type.

Muratori was later transferred to 352a Squadriglia, 155o Gruppo CT, which was equipped with Fiat G.50bis.

On 22 August 1941, a reconnaissance aircraft from 39 Squadron on a sortie over the coastal area of the Axis lines between Tobruk and the Egyptian frontier, was intercepted and shot down by Sottotenente Muratori.
This was Blenheim IV AH361 from 39 Squadron (mostly equipped with Marylands) which was shot down in Sollum Bay with Sergeant C. K. Berriman (RAAF) and his crew being KIA.

At 10:00 (Axis time) on 3 September 1941, 23 G.50bis of 20o Gruppo took off, led by Tenente Colonnello Mario Bonzano, to make a strafing attack in the Sidi Barrani area. They arrived over LG 05 at 11:35 (GMT), strafing 1 SAAF Squadron’s Hurricanes and damaging three of these, also riddling every tent with machine-gun fire. The Italian pilots believed that they had destroyed eight aircraft and many vehicles on the ground here. As quickly as possible six Hurricanes took off but were too late to engage the raiders.
Ten miles away at LG 02, 2 SAAF Squadron had four aircraft on standing patrol and seven on immediate readiness. A telephone warning sent the latter Tomahawks into the air within 90 seconds, the last of these hardly being airborne before the raiders swept in, some of them as low as 150ft. The South African pilots identified the attackers as 27 in number, and at once attacked. Lieutenant Charles Whaites made the first claim for one G.50, which he saw spin into the ground two miles from the camp. The second claim was made by Lieutenant N. J. Cullum, who witnessed his target go into the ground at high speed, while a third was “shot to pieces” by fire from five Tomahawks before being given the ‘coup de grace’ by Lieutenant W. P. Stanford (Tomahawk AK442) and John Wells, who reported that it had crashed five miles west of Sidi Barrani. All these were seen by ground personnel on the airfields. Further claims were made by Lieutenants J. W. Sayers and Rolfe Gernecke who each claimed one shot down onto an escarpment to the west, while Lieutenant A. D. Farralls’s claimed victim reportedly fell into the sea. The only casualty to the squadron was Lieutenant L. A. Stones’ aircraft (Tomahawk AM376) which was hit by Bofors AA fire from the airfields, and was forced to crash-land.
The Italian pilots reported being engaged by Tomahawks and Hurricanes following completion of their strafing attack and became involved in a 25-minutes combat during which claims were made for 14 of the intercepting fighters shot down, plus three more probable and four damaged for the loss of four G.50bis. It seems that six more G.50bis suffered fairly severe damage during this engagement. Claiming pilot from 20o Gruppo was Tenente Colonnello Bonzano (1 Tomahawk and 1 and 1 probable Hurricane). Claiming pilots from 151a Squadriglia were Capitano Giampiero Del Prete (1 and 1 shared Hurricane), Sergente Maggiore Gugliélmo Gorgone (1 Tomahawk), Sottotenente Pietro Menaldi (1 shared Hurricane), Sergente Maggiore Alberto Porcarelli (1 Tomahawk) and Maresciallo Federico Tassinari (1 Tomahawk). Claiming pilots from 352a Squadriglia were Sergente Maggiore Otello Bonelli (1 Hurricane), Capitano Luigi Borgogno (1 damaged Hurricane), Sergente Maggiore Renato De Silvestri (1 damaged Hurricane), Maresciallo Maurizio Iannucci (1 damaged Hurricane), Sergente Giuseppe Mirrione (1 Hurricane), Sottotenente Giorgio Oberwerger (1 damaged Hurricane), Sergente Maggiore Francesco Pecchiari (1 Hurricane) and Sergente Maggiore Francesco Visentin (1 probable Hurricane). Claiming pilots from 353a Squadriglia were Sergente Maggiore Ersio Caponigro (1 and 1 probable Hurricane), Sergente Maggiore Tullio Covre (1 Hurricane), Sergente Spiridione Guiducci (1 Hurricane), Sergente Alcide Leoni (1 shared Hurricane) and Capitano Riccardo Roveda (1 Hurricane). The four lost G.50bis was one from 353a Squadriglia (MM5939 shot down; Sergente Maggiore Bruno Baldacci KIA) and four from 352a Squadriglia (MM5933 shot down, crash-landed; Sottotenente Muratori KIA) (MM5947 shot down, crash-landed; Sergente Giovanni Vescovi KIA) (G.50bis shot down, crash-landed; Sergente Maggiore Renato De Silvestri PoW).
In consequence of this action, Tenente Colonnello Bonzano received the immediate award of the Medaglia d’argento al valor militare.

At the time of his death, Muratori was credited with 1 probable biplane victory and a total of 1.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1940                
  20/09/40 17:30-18:10 1 Blenheim (a) Probable Fiat CR.42   Menastir area 92a Squadriglia
  1941                
1 22/08/41   1 Blenheim (b) Destroyed Fiat G.50bis   Tobruk 352a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 probably destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed, 1 probably destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with Blenheims from 55 Squadron, which didn’t suffer any losses.
(b) Blenheim IV AH361 of 39 Squadron shot down and crew KIA.

Sources:
2o Stormo - Note storiche dal 1925 al 1975 - Gino Strada, 1975 USSMA, Rome, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.
A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume One – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, 2012 Grub Street, London, ISBN 978-1908117076
L’8oGruppo caccia in due conflitti mondiali - Giuseppe Pesce, 1974 S.T.E.M. Mucchi, Modena, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.
L'Aeronautica Italiana nella Seconda Guerra Mondiale - Prima Parte - Giuseppe Santoro, 1950 Danesi, Rome, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.
Additional information kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo




Last modified 13 March 2016